Patience or Panic: Brandon Nimmo, Jonah Heim
As I mentioned last week, the herd is thinning on guys we are unsure of. The final month of the season approaches and with it comes the anxiety of a pennant race or the overwhelming banality of watching a non-competitive squad limp to the finish.
Regardless, if you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly in the heat of a fantasy playoff battle. As such, you’ve likely hit on at least a few players who were undervalued during draft season. Let’s take a look at a few such players who’ve struggled of late.
Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
Nimmo’s issue has seldom been production, carving out a career .267/.380/.440 slash line in parts of eight seasons, all with the Mets. Unfortunately, he’s battled injuries, playing in 100 games in just three of those eight seasons. Fortunately, however, two of those three seasons have come in 2022 and 2023.
2022 was a major success for Nimmo as he stayed healthy and produced arguably his best season as far as fantasy players are concerned. He hit .274 with 16 home runs, 64 RBI, and 102 runs. Certainly not earth-shattering numbers, but very solid production from a player who had struggled to stay healthy previously.
Expectations were lukewarm for Nimmo coming into 2023, drafted around 200th in ESPN leagues on average. He’s probably been better than that would suggest, collecting 19 home runs, 53 RBI and 72 runs. His .356 OBP has certainly delighted players in relevant leagues.
The past two weeks, however, have been less kind to the outfielder. He’s hitting just .217 over 12 games, recording 10 hits over 53 plate appearances. Still, he’s walked 7 times in the same time frame despite striking out 13 times. Maybe we’re nitpicking here, but margins are thin and time is short in the playoffs.
Verdict: Patience. I think this is a run-of-the-mill cold spell and expect Nimmo to snap out of it quickly. His 12.1% barrel rate and 28.3% hard contact rate during the cold spell should allay any concerns.
Jonah Heim, C, Texas Rangers
The pre-season expectations for Heim were rather low. He had some value as a late-round pick because he’s a catcher who hit 16 home runs a year ago, but there was little sign he could hit for average or produce much in the way of RBI or runs.
With an ADP in the 250’s in ESPN leagues, Heim looks like the steal of the season. He’s already surpassed his RBI total from a year ago, has equaled his runs scored and is just one homer shy of matching last season’s 16. Add in a batting average of .269 and you’ve got a bona fide breakout.
Heim was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left wrist injury on July 28th and was reinstated on August 13. Since then, his production has plummeted. In 12 games, he’s batting .152 with just 1 home run, 2 runs scored and 4 RBI. His hard contact rate has been a dismal 19.4% in that span and is striking out at a 25% clip, well north of his 17.8% mark on the season.
There does appear to have been some bad luck in play, with Heim generating an extremely low .174 BABIP throughout his struggles. Still, his xBABIP of .241 still points to poor quality of contact.
Verdict: Deep Anxiety. I’d say panic, but I don’t know what options you’re likely to have at catcher at this point in the season. If you have a serviceable second option, it may be prudent to roll with them for now as it doesn’t seem like Heim has found the swing of things off the wrist injury.Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York MetsPatience. Jonah Heim, C, Texas RangersDeep Anxiety.